Friday, February 28, 2014

This is such a nice conceit :)

We might marginally have ameliorated their impact through dredging differently or spending more or disapplying EU waste directives or sacrificing Lord Smith in a wicker man at Glastonbury, but the deluge would still have happened.

Daniel Hannan, at the Telegraph.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Before the truth has got its boots on.

I was alerted, earlier this morning, via the medium of Facebook, to an interesting graphic.

Okay. Interesting stuff. But we know that many of these figures come from the Lord High Tax Denouncer himself, Richard "Murray". Also known as "Richard Murphy". Not that famous campaign for justice for taxes, "Murphy Richards".

But, look, they've given us a source document. It doesn't say exactly what it is the source of but a rational observer would suggest that both the 300 staff and the £70bn+ figures should be found somewhere in there. Well, we know that the figure of £70bn+ "tax evasion" is utter bollocks - because Murphy gets royally and officially spanked for it. As well as having it blogged about by "the most under-rated business / economics journalist".

So lets look (and we can also get further information from the underlying source document to that source document, the HMRC "Measuring tax gaps 2012" official statistics*.)  Interestingly, the overall tax gap, there, is given as £32bn. As some of the tax gap is due to companies going bust owing money, for example, the tax evasion component needs to be less than the overall gap. So evasion isn't £70bn+ according to HMRC.

Anyway - that source document. Interestingly, it gives neither figure - not evasion nor the numbers employed. So it is a pretty crap source, really. It does say that, in combination with "criminal attack" and "the hidden economy", evasion makes up 46% of the £32bn tax gap. So, a maximum of £14.7bn. Going to the underlying source, this splits down in to £4bn for evasion and £5bn each for the other two (Ed notes: I have no idea what happened to the not insignificant £700m - without it, that would reduce the combined %age to just under 44 rather than the quoted 46.)

Figures for HMRC staff are available from the HMRC transparency datasets. Ignoring senior managers and using the March 2012 figures, this gives you 1495.74 FTEs in the "Specialist Investigations" department and 2231.94 in the "Criminal Investigation" department. Obviously, not all of these will be hard-core anti-tax evasion professionals - 3700 people don't self administer, certainly not in a government department but there are over ten times the claimed 300. And that is assuming that nobody else in HMRC has anything to do with tax evasion.

As for the DWP numbers, I've only checked the fraud figures and these, if not necessarily 'accurate' are the same as the official statistics. However, they are missing things out (just as you'd expect.) Benefit errors, both over and underpaid, add up to £3.3bn. I would expect that, given the accuracy of the rest of the figures used for the graph, that these 3250 people include the ones who are hunting out all aspects of benefit mis-payment, not just the fraud. I would also point out that benefit fraud, objectively, would be at a lower value per event than tax fraud, therefore is going to require a larger number of people to track it down.

Overall, this is a stupidly misleading graph that even I, about as tax professional as our kitten, can refute in less time than it took me to type this. Far less, in fact - three google searches and the alteration of one URI.

* There is a later 2013 report available as well, covering tax year 2011-12.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

But the Guardian strikes back ...


The only sensible interpretation of this being is that people who rent to people on benefits are evil*. Presumably because they should be renting, at mate's rates, to Guardian journalists. Rather than to people who actually need the accommodation.

* Some of them might indeed be. Slum landlords and the ghost of Rachman. Although when I was renting out, it cost a small fortune on your insurance to rent to Housing Benefit claimants.

I actually agree with a Laurie Penny article.

This one.

Admittedly it is just "tabloids being appalling about a woman" and confusing "of interest to the public" with "in the public interest". Although, I suspect one of us must be ill.

Ancient memories (of agreeing with Councillor Kelly ...)

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

The Pound Scots

I had been going to try to write something intelligent about the "Should an independent Scotland be allowed to keep the Pound Sterling" debacle.

But I've no chance of being able to produce anything as well thought through and erudite as this from Prof Adam Tomkins. If you are at all interested in the Scottish independence debate or vote, I'd suggest you read it.

On a less serious note, I might suggest that as we are generally talking about a 9:1 split, we just split the Pound Sterling 90p to the English and 10p to the Jocks. That would make it comparable to the historical value of the Pound Scots anyway ...

Miranda search not illegal.

Let's be honest here (and the hard-done-by-warrior-for-truth version from the mendacious even-more-lefties). This is not an "evil Tories thing." The legislation was enacted by those doughty warriors for human rights from New Labour.

The offence (which Miranda was suspected of committing, hence the search and it was shown subsequent to the search that the suspicion was justified) is "possession of material likely to be of use to terrorists" (s58 Terrorism Act 2000) rather than the s57 "possession of material for terrorist purposes" or the more recent s2 Terrorism Act 2006 "dissemination of terrorist materials." Nobody, apart from the Guardian and its apologists, has suggested that anybody considers that Miranda, Greenwald or Poitras are terrorists. (Ed notes: I'm sure some people consider that Snowden is and they may even be justified under the very strange and broad US laws on terrorism. Personally, I don't. The wider question is whether what Snowden did is honourable whistleblowing, treasonous leaking of critically sensitive security information or something between the two. My opinion - he's on the criminal side of 'civil disobedience' pace Chelsea Manning.)

There is very little doubt that some of the material that Snowden removed will be "likely to be of use to terrorists". There isn't much more doubt that Snowden had shared much if not all of his material with Greenwald and Poitras, relying on their journalist integrity to determine what and when would be released. As was done, in a similar context, by Astrange and his MSM collaborators. Miranda was acting as a courier between Poitras and Greenwald.

So, there we go. Now, I'm not saying that Miranda is guilty of a s58 offence. He may have a statutory defence under s58(3) - if "for the purposes of journalism" are considered "a reasonable excuse". But that is not the point. Was the search and seizure justified? Miranda, of course, is not a journalist ...

And, the point that he is Greenwald's bideyin is utterly irrelevant. Except, of course, in victimhood poker stakes.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Bombs at Army Careers Offices

This. All I'd say is that if the bombs were going to the people who actually process people in to the Army (Capita) or the people who manage Army careers (Glasgow) then your pool of suspects would be very different and the bombs likely to be a lot better made!

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

False Dichotomy of the Day

Simon Jenkins has a really quite good article up on Comment is Fatuous, condemning the banning of  Dieudonn√© M'bala M'bala, not for what would be a perfectly acceptable reason of having a particularly silly name even for a Frenchman, but because he's, well, more than a little bit anti-semitic.

Go ahead and read it. Much better than the usual inter-sectionality infighting and blatent Marxism than normally fills those virtual pages.

Anyway, the bit I am whining about? This:
The greatest test for those who claim to champion liberty lies in their attitude to its opposite. How far will they tolerate the intolerable? ... Do they see the Pussy Riot performers as prisoners of conscience or as hooligans causing deep offence to Russia's state religion?
Obviously, they're both. If they had been fined a few hundred rubles for any damage they actually did (if they did do any - not all hooliganism is vandalism) to the fabric or fittings of the church, then I'd not be that bothered. They quite deliberately set out to cause deep offence to Russia's state religion (and, more particularly, to Russia's President.) But that is what freedom of speech is about (not that it is a tradition in Russia). So, I am also happy to recognise them as prisoners of conscience. Without any cognitive dissonance.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Is this news?

Oh, sorry. I thought that said:

"Corruption within EC 'breathtaking'"

Word of the day.


The paternalistic lecture given by Whites toward a person of color defining what should and shouldn't be considered racist, while obliviously exhibiting their own racism.

Plus ca change?

Hmm, this Ofsted row. I don't remember nearly as much fuss when Labour were packing the quangos with their bien pensants?

Chris Smith - Environment Agency. Appointed 2008.

Suzi Leather - Charity Commission, School Food Trust, Consumer Focus, etc, etc

Deidre Hutton - Civil Aviation Authority (many previously). Appointed 2009.

etc, etc ...

Plus all the charities now headed by ex-Labour researchers, thieves and scoundrels.

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